Digital images and Memory

Edinsson Peña

Professor Dr. Ellis



Digital images and Memory

Picture this!  “A picture can be worth 1000 words”, according ancient Chinese proverb. We humans depend on our memory through our life times. This means that pictures of events, scenery or moments are just as important as self portraits. Most people lack the ability to remember certain moments or events. Cameras have been around for while now. It would simply be expensive or time consuming to go to a dark room and reveal the photos that were taken. However, during 1975 Steven Sasson engineered the first digital camera and this began the digital era for cameras. Sasson invention was a game changer. This is because people can adjust to their local printing place and print their photos. In today’s society there has been controversies about electronic medians become a problem. A glance of this can be read in Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows”. Carr discusses that way people interact with books or how they do research has changed. In the 21st century everything is digital, so research or reading a book has never been so efficient. Carr does a rebottle and describes the negatives effects of using the social media, doing research online and many other actives. I highly think digital images or photos are very useful. Nevertheless, images or pictures in general are beneficial to the human brain and this allows humans to have a better cognitive process of remembering. I will be discussing two valid points and counter argument to support the statements.  Images boost ability to comprehend a great deals of information within a glace as well as our memory , and the digital camera works as an affordance to our memory with images. Nerveless, some people think digital images can be used in malicious ways, but this does not mean the technology itself is horrible .

Digital images have a great effect on the human brain, this aids the brain to remember events or moments when any situation call for it. Human have an amazing mind; the brain can record a large amount of memories. However, as we age and acquire more memories, it becomes more difficult to be able to recall older memories. “In December, Mr. Reznick clicked through the slide show of his trip to the museum, more than 18 months after the event. His eyes flickered with recognition at a few of the images. When he came upon a picture annotated by his wife, showing bricks engraved with donor names, he nodded and said, ”I remember that.” “  (The New York Times).In other words, digital images are helpful to the brain and a result it our brain become efficient. Everyone loves the ability to recall events or moments that were very dear to us as individuals. In addition, the assertors of human were able to survive in primitive wild environments because they were to remember where to go for hunting and which was the safest path to go back home. This ability was essential for human evolution in general. I will share a personal anecdote to further prove my argument. When I was one years old, I got stranded in the amusement park called “Play land”. I was holding hands with my mother and I remember staring at the rides, and lights. After split second I found myself lost and worried. I started to brainstorm all the possible horrible outcomes that can happen to me. No, I had to remind focus on my goal. I began recalling where I came from and I started to hear a voice. Finally , I found my mother whom was screaming like desperately. “One person’s memory of an event can influence another person and can become part of that person’s memory report” (Gabbert, Memon, Allan, & Wright, 2004). In the other hand , since my mother was in this tragic event every time she see a poster of Playland she able to remember that day and now we share a common trigger for that memory. These special bonds we share with other people, we are able to have the same recorded event or moment with them. Digital images can trigger really instance emotions that can lead to remembering an event. For example a photo of your Ex boyfriend,  girlfriend ,wife or husband. You both share memories together, but you think is best for you to forget about the other person. Nevertheless, you manage to put those memories behind ,then you forgot to delete the last photo. This cause a person to feel mixed emotions and a great deal of flashbacks that can be pleasant or not. Cameras have come along way, now they have many other uses.  

The digital camera has made many affordances in today’s society that contributes to memory. “The concept was simple: sing digital pictures and audio to archive an experience like a weekend visit from the grandchildren, creating a summary of the resulting content by picking crucial images, and reviewing them periodically to awaken and strengthen the memory of the event” (The New York Times). This means that digital Cameras in addition to some software can really recreate an event that a person might have forgotten with rich vivid details. The advances in digital imagery, sound and video allows us to experience moments from others. Example, getting to know someone who is no longer alive or an event you did not take part in. In this case for me was the 9/11 tragedy. I was not in America when this event happened and at first I did not have clue of what it was. After coming to America and going to through their educational system, I was fortunate enough to watch a film on about that event.  Thanks to the film images of the aftermath, I now have a good idea of what would have been like be around the towers during that event. When you see the lives that were lost and the facial expressions of the people who experience this first hand, you can recall how horrible it was for them. Cameras get a lot more detail now, than before, since they upgrade to sensors in them there is more to think about. Taking a perfect shot involve calculations and there is science behind it. Furthermore, as a result our brain is focusing different tasks like making sure the light is well, that you have the right focus and that you are using the right equipment for that shot. After taking the shot, you have solid memory in your hand and you won’t forget that easily seeing that you took the shot. However, there are large quantity of people who have a different perspective about digital images.

There are arguments that illlustrate how digital images are bad and that they are not helpful at all. Everyone is different and the effects of digital images in our life can also differ. “Lazy fools! … People don’t know what to do with their free time, all they do is post photos in social media and others look at those photos for hours on their phones. In my opinion it’s a complete waste of time” – Morrobel. Some people think digital images can use with malicious purposes, but this does not mean the technology itself is terrible. “Two years ago, Mr. Reznick, who has early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and is now 82, signed up for an experiment intended to help people with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders” (The New York Times). This Illustrates that Cameras and digital images can be used properly to aid people who suffer illness that affects their ability to recall events. This experiment proves that it depends on the individuals and their way they use this technology, since there is not a specific way of you using it. “They’re good to have memories that last a lifetime, as opposed to regular picture that decays over time” – Santiago.  Digital images and cameras are just a tools we can use as we please. Example, we use hammers for hammering nails, but it can also be weapon, we are the ones who give tools purpose.

Ultimately, we live in a digital era, where the internet is the number one medium to use for information. Digital images and cameras are creating memories for people everyday. Images are great way of communication. Digital images are beneficial to towards our learning and essential to the human brain. Yes, digital images can be of bad influence, but we can not allow a simple image with negativity affect us. Finally, a person need to give this technology a humble and good purpose because is a tremendous way of learning.

Work Cited 

  • BHATTACHARJEE, YUDHIJIT. “A Little Black Box to Jog Failing Memory.” The New York Times 9 Mar. 2010: 1.
  • Gabbert, F., Memon, A., Allan, K., & Wright, D. B. (2004). Say it to my face: Examining the effects of socially encountered misinformation. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 9, 215–227.
  • William Santigo. Personal interview. 4 December 2015.
  • Tomasa Morrebel. Personal interview.  1 December 2015.

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